Cycling the mountain

Senior competes in the Dakota 50


Ryan Moseley

Kieren Langer heads down the hillside, coasting down and regaining his stamina. The downhills are some of the more technical parts of mountain biking, and one of his strong suits. “The main difference from the slow race to the actual race is the pedaling, you actually pedal more,” Langer said. “The downhills in the main race is where I excelled, which really shows the technical skills aspect of cycling, and mountain biking specifically.”

Logan Moseley, Broadcast Editor in Chief, Striv Executive Producer

On Sunday, Sept. 4, senior Kieren Langer participated in one of the biggest mountain biking events in the country, a 50 mile trek through the beautiful Dakota Black Hills.

The race started in Spearfish Park, with three aid stations at the 10, 24 and 35 mile marks, and a Bacon Station, a place where bacon was served to all riders to help fuel them to finish, at mile 38. After the first aid station, the loop went in a clockwise direction, alternating clockwise and counterclockwise every year.

This wasn’t the first time Langer participated in the Dakota 50, technically. Back in 2020, the Millard West cycling team did its own rendition of the race at Tranquility Park, the “Da-COVID 50”, a 50 mile “race” between team members. The race was a simulation of what the riders would face in South Dakota, but with less people to limit contact with COVID-19. 

“I definitely didn’t train as much as I would have liked this year,” Langer said. “I think next year I would like to get 3,000 miles in before I take on the race again.”

During the slow race, Langer placed first amongst his group, but it wasn’t necessarily an indicator of how he would perform the following day, as the slow race is more technical than the actual race. The heat was stifling, setting a record high of 101 degrees, and it was one of the toughest races in the race’s history.

Langer wasn’t the only rider from Millard West, as the cycling team’s head coach Ryan Moseley also competed, riding side by side with one of the most decorated riders in the program’s history.

“This was my third race in South Dakota, and it was by far the toughest I’ve been in,” Moseley said. “I’m very proud of what Kieren accomplished, his determination to finish in a race where nearly 1/3 of the riders weren’t able to finish, shows what type of kid he is.”

Moseley wasn’t alone in Langer’s journey. English teacher and Nebraska Interscholastic Cycling League president Breanne Campbell and Langer’s mom, German teacher Wendy Langer were there to support Kieren.

“I was very proud of Kieren for his effort and for pushing through,” Wendy Langer said. “I know he wants to train again and improve for the next time he does it, hopefully next year.”

Kieren may not have placed, but his determination and grit pushed him to complete one of the toughest races in the nation, and everyone in his supporting cast is proud of what he has done.